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Title: Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
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rsteven
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(Date Posted:06/30/2018 10:55)


Hello Chip,

As I and so many of your loyal board members anxiously await your next installment of Chip's Tips, whereby you announce the upcoming iconic Christmas classics from the Golden Age of Christmas music that you and Real Gone Music have managed to secure for CD release this year, I always find myself returning to scan your Top 500 Christmas List of the greatest Christmas albums in history in order to add to my growing CD collection. I never fail to find less than four or five CD's to add to my growing Christmas collection each year that now numbers well over 300.

This year, among your not so "hidden gems," I recently discovered two surprisingly glorious albums. Firstly, Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas album from 1967 has been an absolutely breathtaking listen. To begin with, I was virtually unaware that the great Ella had even made a second Christmas album of any consequence as everybody else is so obsessed with her first beloved holiday album, "Ella wishes you a Swinging Christmas," and rightly so as it truly deserves its place in you top tier of your top 40 of the greatest Christmas albums of all time. I mean this is Michael Bublé's favorite Christmas album of all time, so its status is well deserved with those fantastic brass charts by Frank DeVol being a perfect match for Ella's great jazz chops.

What makes Ella's follow-up album six years later for the Capitol Jazz label even more amazing is how different the sound and arrangements were from her first masterpiece. Ella's second iconic holiday album goes in the opposite direction in more ways than one. Firstly, she began by selecting all sacred songs for her stupendous second Christmas album as opposed to the first holiday album that was all secular in its song choices. Secondly, she chose the magnificent conductor and arranger, Ralph Carmichael, as her primary collaborator, best known for his stellar orchestral arrangements on Nat King Cole's glorious and iconic "The Christmas Song" album, one of the top five best selling Christmas albums of all time.

Ralph Carmichael could not have been a better choice as he is more or less known as the father of contemporary Christian music that has become so popular in the last several decades. Wow, and Ella totally adapts to his gentle and caressing style, much like the velvety cushion he provided on Nat's iconic Christmas album. Lots of glistening harp, violins and choral arrangements that are to die for and never get in the way of Ella's perfect pitch singing and amazing intonation. 13 glorious sacred songs and if anyone on your great board appreciates and admires Nat King Cole's splendid holiday album, than they will definitely be thrilled with this amazing masterpiece as well and sonically they sound very similar.

Chip, I can only think of a couple vocalists from your amazing Top 500 List that have made two almost perfect and equally great Christmas albums in their lifetime. Andy Williams comes to mind immediately with his two magnificent holiday albums. Of course, I should mention Bing and Perry Como have at least three albums in your First Tier as I recall so they are sort of in a category all by themselves. We also know that the two great instrumental maestro's, Percy Faith and Mantovani, are at the top of the list for creating more or less two equally glorious albums, especially Percy, who of course deservedly holds the top two places on the First Tier of your glorious Top 500 List.

Chip, am I missing any other artist or vocalist from your magnificent list that you feel made at least two almost equally great Christmas albums in their lifetime?



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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:06/30/2018 12:25)


Steve,

In addition to Andy Williams, Perry Como and Bing Crosby, other solo recording artists who have multiple albums in the 1st Tier of my Top 500 (albums 1-125) are Jo Stafford, Patti Page, Burl Ives, Buck Owens and Mahalia Jackson.

For instrumental recording artists, in addition to Percy Faith and Mantovani, they include The Living Strings, Leroy Anderson, Ferrante & Teicher and Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops.

And for choir/chorale/ensemble recording artists, they include Fred Waring & the Pennsylvanians, Ray Conniff, The New Christy Minstrels, Mitch Miller, Sammy Kaye, Lawrence Welk, The Living Voices, The Ames Brothers and The Chipmunks.


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rsteven
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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:06/30/2018 13:43)


Chip,

Thanks so much for reminding me of the other glorious pairings by those iconic artists on your magnificent Top 500 list. I had forgotten about Jo Stafford's fantastic albums since they are available on one CD as a twofer as well. Wow, and her pitch and intonation is right on par with Ella's and of course I have that great CD in my collection, which again is an artist that I would not have ever even known about without your iconic Top 500 list.

Burl Ives is another artist I should have mentioned, and again I guess I put him in almost the Bing and Perry category, but I guess as much as I love his voice as a great story teller, I probably do not put him in the same great vocal category as Bing, Andy, Johnny or Nat, but thats a matter of my personal bias. He is a truly iconic Christmas artist nevertheless. Oh Patti Page, how did I overlook her as an artist that made two great albums. My aunt Helen, who I have talked to you about before, helped her early on in her career while she owned and managed KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I love that first Christmas album of hers on Columbia, but will have to revisit the Mercury album again for comparison.

Now, the great Mahalia Jackson, that is the artist that I meant to get to after I talked about Ella in my previous post. Once again, your fantastic list of the greatest Christmas albums ever brought me to one of her great holiday albums that I did not have in my collection and along with "Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas," is my favorite "new" holiday CD added to my collection this year. I love all three of her great Christmas albums, but wouldn't you know, the one that turns out to be my favorite is the one I just bought a few days ago based on your list, "Christmas With Mahalia". What I love most about this album, besides her majestic and powerful vocals, is the stellar orchestral arrangements of Marty Paich, who surrounded her with swelling strings the way one might have imagined Percy Faith would have done if he had scored the charts on this splendid Christmas album.

I did think about Leroy Anderson too, briefly, with the stereo and mono versions of his iconic Christmas album. I love those two iconic album covers as well, and I believe the first album cover with the great picture of the cat and presents is rightly rated by you as the number one Christmas album cover of all time. Ferrante & Teicher definitely made two of the greatest instrumental Christmas albums in history as well as being one of my very favorite piano Christmas album artists of all time.

I cannot imagine how I would have ever tracked down some of these fantastic, but rare Christmas albums without your definitive and irreplaceable Top 500 list. I have found great albums on all three tiers of your amazing Top 500 list and even an album or two on your "honorable mentions" category. I cannot imagine the work and resources it took to put together such an iconic listing and ratings of the greatest Christmas music albums in history. Thanks again for the road map that you have provided to all of us Christmas lovers of the Golden Age as we await your coming announcement about what gems from that list that we will be able to add to our fantastic collections this year. From your previous statement on the board regarding the future announcement of your RGM Christmas albums not being made until after July in all likelihood, we now know you are diligently trying to score some more of those iconic, but hard fought releases from Universal Music. We so appreciate your tenacity to get these glorious albums remastered and restored to their original splendor and back out in circulation. Good luck, my friend!


(Message edited by rsteven On 06/30/2018 14:04)
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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:06/30/2018 20:53)


Yes, I agree about Burl Ives; but that list was only to show what artists in the 1st Tier of my Top 500 had multiple stellar Christmas albums.

As for Patti Page, her Columbia album was actually her second Christmas album (1965); but it's ranked higher at #20 than her original Mercury album (1955), which is ranked #80.

Regarding my ranking of the greatest Christmas album covers of all-time, Leroy Anderson's "Christmas kitty" (as I refer to it) cover for his 1955 Christmas album Christmas Carols is #3, behind Fred Waring's great Norman Rockwell cover for his 1955 Christmas album 'Twas The Night Before Christmas which is #1, and Percy Faith's "Father playing Santa Claus while holding sleeping daughter" cover for his original version of his 1954 Christmas album Music Of Christmas, which is #2. For that original thread on the board, click here.

In my Top 500, in addition to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Tiers, as well as the "Notable Mentions" section, there is my "Bubbling Under" section of 200 albums that bubble under the Top 300. For my original announcement in 2013 of the posting of the "Bubbling Under" section, click here.

And lastly, so glad you appreciate the Christmas music of Mahalia Jackson. Her Christmas albums are, unfortunately, quite underrated and underappreciated today. She was the "Percy Faith" of gospel singers, in that she was able to convey the kind of power, emotion and reverence with her singing that Mr. Faith did with his orchestra. And just like with Percy Faith, it's always an emotional experience listening to her music. I did an In The Spotlight tribute to her in 2009, click here. And posted below is my favorite Mahalia Jackson Christmas song of all-time; her magnificently spirited rendition of "Go Tell It On The Mountain."





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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com

rsteven
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Posts:99

RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:06/30/2018 23:05)


Hello Chip,

Yes indeed, I totally agree with you regarding the superiority of Patti Page's second Columbia Christmas album over her first one for Mercury. Once again your list guided me to securing both those splendid albums, but there is a charm and wistfulness on that second holiday album for Columbia that just cannot be beat. My mom was a huge fan of her iconic song "Tennessee Waltz" and of course with my Aunt's connection with her earlier career, we all remained very big fans of hers for a lifetime.

Oh gosh, I had a real senior moment with your favorite album cover picks of all time. Gee whiz, I am only 58 for goodness sakes. Well, of course the fantastic Fred Waring album with the iconic Norman Rockwell cover is your greatest Christmas album cover of all time. How could it not be as I bought two copies of your spectacular twofer release from Real Gone Music just to make sure I have a back-up with that wonderful cover as well as the glorious music that lies within. I also agree with your pick for number 2 with Percy Faith's original album cover for Music Of Christmas. Just precious to say the least.

I have just been mesmerized by listening to the great Mahalia Jackson and thanks again for posting those amazing clips of her glorious singing. Elvis Presley was a big fan of Mahalia's and got the chance to meet her when she came on the set of his movie, The Trouble With Girls. He also gave a shout out to her during the filming of one of his Las Vegas concerts, when he teased his wonderful back-up singers, the Sweet Inspirations, after they could not stop laughing at one of his antics on stage by saying, "I'm bringing in the Supremes next week with Mahalia Jackson singing lead." Elvis loved gospel music above all else and there must have been a lot of mutual respect there between the two legends.

And thanks again for expanding your fantastic Top Playlist throughout the years as without consulting it, I would have been like a man lost in the desert trying to find water without a compass.

Best regards,

Steve  



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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:07/01/2018 00:39)


Close Steve, but it was actually Elvis' next (and what would ultimately be his last) film, Change Of Habit, that Mahalia visited him on the set. She wanted him to participate in a fundraiser she was organizing. He was willing to do it, but Colonel Tom put the kibosh on it. This is typical of why my friend Ethel Gabriel, the legendary RCA Records producer, who was very close to Elvis having been with him at RCA from the beginning, was not partial to the Colonel. And Ethel wasn't alone, as many people had issues with the Colonel as well.



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rsteven
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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:07/01/2018 01:03)


Hello Chip,

Oh boy, it looks like I am batting a 1000 today on my facts! Glad you are there to catch my errors. And I am totally with Ms. Gabriel on her opinion of Colonel Tom Parker. He really failed Elvis, both personally and professionally, especially in the later half of his career. He always based his decisions on the near term financial gains and never from the merits of the artistic long term prospects for his client.

Steve
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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:07/01/2018 02:08)


Exactly Steve and another example of this was Elvis' acting career. He was a far better actor than he is given credit for, largely due to all of the lightweight vehicles that the Colonel negotiated for him. And when a serious dramatic acting role came along, the Colonel usually turned it down. The 1960 film Flaming Star was a rare exception to this. But two years earlier, the Colonel turned down one of the best films Elvis was ever offered: 1958's The Defiant Ones, which eventually went to Tony Curtis.



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rsteven
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Posts:99

RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:07/01/2018 08:58)


Chip,

You are so right about Elvis's potential to be a very fine actor. My father, who spent the early part of his career in the television industry as a director, was always very critical of Hall Wallis and the limited budget films that Tom Parker negotiated for Elvis. He too, thought Elvis had natural born skill as an actor.

Walter Matthau was another great actor that worked with Elvis in one of the KIng's better movies, King Creole, and always had very great things to say about Elvis personally and as an actor, including the following statement about Elvis in a 1987 interview, "“He was an instinctive actor...He was quite bright...he was very intelligent...He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined, and sophisticated.” 




(Message edited by rsteven On 07/01/2018 09:00)
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RE:Chip's Top 500 Play List (The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year)
(Date Posted:07/01/2018 11:10)


Being the fine gentleman that he was, Elvis was loyal to a fault. And unfortunately, he felt he owed everything to the Colonel for his success. The Colonel took full -- and I mean full -- advantage of this. And sadly, as a result of the way he managed his career, he basically just squandered Elvis' full potential and talent.



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Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com

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